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Year of Misfortune: Top 12 Billion-Dollar U.S. Disasters

By Tom Randall - 2011-12-21T20:11:59Z

Photograph by NASA

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#4 Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene left a trail of inland flooding and storm damage from North Carolina to Maine. More than 7 million homes and businesses lost electricity. Vermont was struck particularly hard. Two of the state's iconic covered bridges washed away, and some 250 roads were closed. "It's the worst flooding we've seen in 75 years, perhaps ever," Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said.

The storm hit eastern North Carolina as a Category 1 storm on Aug. 27. Irene reached New York, the most populous U.S. city, as a tropical storm, toppling trees and tearing down power lines, causing less disruption than was feared.

The storm approached 2005's Katrina in size, with hurricane-strength winds felt 104 miles away and tropical-storm-strength winds stretching 230 miles. At least 45 people died. Irene's bill came to more than $7.3 billion.

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